It Wouldn’t Hurt Apple to Give Us a Clue

Posted on by Larry

Tim Cook was in the news recently. At last week’s shareholder meeting in Cupertino, Cook responded to questions about Apple’s commitment to professional users by saying: “You will see us do more in the pro area,” Cook said. “The pro area is very important to us. The creative area is very important to us in particular.”

Then, he got to the crux of it: “Don’t think something we’ve done or something that we’re doing that isn’t visible yet is a signal that our priorities are elsewhere.” In other words, just because you don’t see anything happening, doesn’t mean that nothing is, in fact, happening.

Sigh… This is becoming an increasingly big leap of faith.

With significant updates to iMacs stretching past 500 days, and updates to the Mac Pro closing in on 1,200 days, it is easy to be skeptical. Since Tim’s comments, news articles appeared with quotes from users who no longer believe Apple knows how to live up to Tim’s promises. (For example: CIO)

I have zero doubt that Apple has the necessary technical skills to create world-class gear. What I am concerned about is whether Apple has the interest and the will to create them; along with recognizing that pros need more than thin; they need power, expandability, and upgradability over time. I also suspect that Apple is wrestling with significant internal struggles over allocation of resources, return-on-investment, and office politics; any one of which can derail any project – no matter how worthy.

I can understand the need for surprise in the consumer market. We all like birthday presents. But, for pro’s who are forced to make “bet-the-business” decisions on hardware purchases, it would be really helpful if Apple were more forthcoming on what we are betting the business on. Not for everything, perhaps, just the high-end professional gear we need to run a creative business in a highly-challenging economic environment. (Oh, and not every creative professional can afford a $10,000 computer; the margins on most projects today are just not there to support it.)

Focusing on professionals implies that we are on the same side, listening to each other. Talk is cheap. A roadmap is better. And the best is actually shipping products.

As always, let me know what you think… and feel free to share this with your friends.


26 Responses to It Wouldn’t Hurt Apple to Give Us a Clue

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  1. Ron Braxley says:

    Spot on, Larry. I’m a Mac guy to the bone, but at the end of the day a shovel is a shovel, and the hole doesn’t care if it’s a Mac shovel or a PC shovel.

  2. Rik Scarce says:

    Thank you for your leadership, Larry. Apple trusts you–you get to work with new software and hardware before it’s released–and they know you’re listened to by us. So perhaps they will listen to you. There needs to be some rationality/reliability to Apple’s update schedule. Instead, we’re reduced to following rumors and keeping our fingers crossed. It’s beyond frustrating. As Ron says, maybe it’s time to jump ship.

    It’s inconceivable that a company with as much cash in the bank as Apple can’t come out with regular releases of essential hardware. They can throw money at several of the problems you pointed out–in return, we’ll throw lots more back.

  3. Clyde Aly says:

    I was in an Apple Store in Dallas recently. In the entire store there was one (1) Mac Pro on display, one (1) 25″5k iMac, and one (1) 23″ 4k iMac. That’s it. The rest of the store was nothing but i gadgets and a few laptops. Doesn’t take much perusing an Apple store to see where Apple’s head is at.

  4. stu aull says:

    weren’t we having this EXACT conversation in 2012, awaiting/hoping for the new MacPro?
    …which I took a pass on; my 2010 MP still grinding away. May have an upgrade to a 2012 coming tho! very excited….

    😉

  5. Imagine if TIM COOK had to rely on suppliers who treated APPLE the way APPLE treats its PROFESSIONAL USER BASE. We need UGLY, THICK POWER, not slick Jet Black finishes, all for reasonable amount of money released on a reasonable schedule! I can’t remember the last time a client commented on the nice bevel on the side of my monitor – but they will ask why renders take so long! 😉

    Dear Lord – if you can create custom chips, new manufacturing processes, etc, you can for darn sure keep processors up to date, know that modern 3D tools like excess CORES AND MEMORY, and the choice and ability to pick between AMD and NVIDIA depending on the apps the user runs on a daily basis. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, that NO ONE IS GOING TO PAY EIGHT TO TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS TODAY FOR A COMPUTER THREE AND A HALF YEARS OLD!

  6. Scott Pinzon says:

    As a video production professional since 2005, my experience is that Apple is absolutely NOT interested in the creative professional. They stripped features out of Final Cut when it revved. They started Aperture, then abandoned it without warning. They are going backwards on the specifications in their “pro” laptops. I prefer Apple’s software and hardware but they have forced me to abandon them due to their betrayals and neglect. Adobe, meanwhile, has plodded along consistently iterating on their Creative Suite and earned my respect (and dollars) from sheer consistency.

  7. Al B. says:

    I too am a smaller production company and have been back and forth over the years with Apple and Windows. I own an iMac from 2012 and a Macbook Pro from 2014. I have no idea what I would upgrade either of them to, as the choices from Apple are absurd for a working pro. While many of us have been waiting, Microsoft and others on the Windows side have been producing much better choices for video pros. I am still very happy with my choice to leave Apple FCP for Adobe when Apple abandoned it’s user base while it attempted to replicate FCP to FCPX. Now I at least have the choice to migrate the last five years of work to Windows if I have to. Which it increasingly is looking like will happen. IMHO, Apple has 2017 to make good on Tim’s words. By this time next year, if they don’t, I’ll have bought a Windows desktop and moved on. I don’t like it. I like Apple’s simplicity, but I have to eventually wake up to the reality that they are not addressing our needs. “Pro” laptops that only max out at 16GBs?! Please. Don’t insult my intelligence Apple!

  8. Steven says:

    Right on the mark. I wrote a piece in a similar vein a couple years ago about Apple leading pro photographers down the primrose path with Aperture. Letting it die slowly and with no planning updates for users left a lot of photographers heavily invested in a dead end. Unfortunately, I think that approach is a legacy of Steve Jobs’ “you’ll take the product we give you and like it” philosophy. Works a lot better for consumer products than professional tools.

  9. Richard Gossar says:

    In November 2006 I bought a fully loaded Mac Pro with two 30″ displays. Upgraded video card. Spent about $15,000. When FCPX came out in 2011, I could not instal it due to my expensive video card was not compatible with FCPX. Had to buy a new card to get FCPX. Life expectancy for our machines is appalling. If I remember correctly, OS Lion was last upgrade I could do according to Apple. Aperture went by the wayside. So I had to switch to their competitor. Lightroom works great for me. Now I’m seriously contemplating a switch to Adobe Premier Pro. Apple definitely doesn’t seem have Pros interest at heart. Large volume sales is the name of the game. Apple started dying after Steve Jobs passed. I wonder what Steve would say now.

    • Larry says:

      Richard:

      Keep in mind that Apple started moving out of the enterprise market when Steve was still there. The Xserve RAID was cancelled on his watch, as was the move away from corporate sales.

      Also keep in mind that the entire tech industry, not just Apple, lives on the concept of planned obsolescence. Both because of the nature of technology and the reasonable need for business to keep selling new gear to pay the bills.

      Larry

  10. I know an increasing number of professionals (not sure how to define that, but you can imagine what I mean) who have been forced to switch to a PC. Every single one says that they are happy they made the switch and wouldn’t go back now even if Apple came up with a kick ass pro machine.

    And those are just people that I know. I can’t imagine how many other individuals and companies are doing the same thing.

    While I doubt that Apple is really going to come up with an affordable kick ass machine for pros at any time in the future, even if I’m wrong they have pushed enough people out the side door that they may be losing the non-iOS market altogether. THAT is poor long range planning

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